Monday, October 09, 2006

The Plot Thickens

Now that's I've committed myself to NaNoWriMo (and probably should be committed elsewhere), the plot for the novel is unwinding itself in front of me. This is the most fun I've had in YEARS. (Well. . .with my clothes on, anyway.)

With sincere gratitude to Suzy Pafka who first encouraged me to write this story, the novel will be based on something that happened to me about 10 years ago. Sitting in the Minneapolis airport after missing a plane to KC, I was surrounded by several lovely, perfect looking women whose flight to Chicago was seriously delayed. We got to talking and, one at a time, the women shared the remarkable stories of their lives. At first, it was just airport chit-chat. Then, one secret was revealed which emboldened another woman to share, and then another.

It turned out that each of these gorgeous, seemingly perfect women were facing major, major challenges in their lives. The reasons they were visiting Chicago were as varied and fascinating as could be. With Sarah (the Amish girl from my Sunday Scribbling) thrown in for good measure, the stories they told that morning will form the skeleton of the novel.

Just at this very second, I came up with a working title: Layers of the Onion.

That morning in the airport taught me, once again, that everyone has a story. It reminded me that the only "normal" people are the ones you don't know well, that "perfect" is an unfair, unknowable label to put on a person. We come to know others as they're peeled bare to us, one layer at a time.

Here are the characters:

Narrator: Basically, me. 40ish woman traveling to visit her parents to be cared for. A little respite in the midst of an ugly divorce and an enormous battle for the health and safety of her son who was seriously injured in a car accident not long ago.

Lynn: A partner with her husband in a small construction company, she's traveling to Chicago to tape a segment of the home improvement show for which she's a host. When we discover her motivation for auditioning for the show and the dilemma she's facing at the moment, we no longer envy her pert blonde perfection.

Carolina: A gorgeous Jamaican woman in her late 20's who eats junk food throughout the wait. Her perfect figure despite her eating habits is one of the sparks for the conversation. She's traveling to meet a man with whom she's been corresponding on the internet. As the reasons for their amazing connection are revealed, our hearts ache for her.

Sarah: Our Amish friend from the Sunday Scribbling is now near the end of her Rumspringer. While living in Minneapolis she's become good friends with the owner of the coffee house where she works. She's on her way to Chicago where her friend's father, an opthamologist, will do lasic surgery on her eyes. After the surgery,she's hoping to see clearly enough to know which way to turn.

Monica: A pleasant, middle-aged woman on her way to meet her grandchildren for the first time. She's recently begun to reconcile her relationship with their mother, her only child, and with herself. Married for years to an abusive alcoholic, neither she nor her daughter can forgive her for not walking away before damage was done to their hearts and lives.

Each woman will tell her own story in her own voice. Those stories will be based on stories the real women told that morning, but they'll be embroidered beyond recognition. And Sarah, of course, is mostly a figment of my overactive (!!) imagination.

I'm anxious to know what you guys think of this idea, so comment away. Especially if you DON'T like or DON'T understand something here. I won't start writing until November 1, but it's not cheating to work out the plotline and details now. At least, I don't think so. If anyone disagrees, I'd like to hear that, too.



Suzy said...

How can you not write this? You came alive in the telling of this story that night in New York. With you writing ability, your words become alive on the page themselves.
Just do it my dear are already on your way.

Remiman said...

Your enthusiasm is infectious; just reading your proposal has my heart rate speeding up.

It seems that when we are on an emotional high and the juices are flowing our thoughts become crystal clear ideas.
I'm glad I met you, and I'm excited to follow you as you attack this project.
Btw, I sleep 3-4 hrs a night (not on purpose) but my exercise regime seems to keep me energized most of the time.
Write on! (pun intended)

~NanCourt~ said...

HURRY, HURRY, HURRY......(no rush though!) ;-)
And I want an autographed copy, hot off the presses!

One of us needs to move.......I have a sense we could either be great enablers and encouragers.......or really great mischief makers!

LOVE the title....onions tend to be pungently sweet with a bite underneath.....just like we all are.

Go, write...we need more!

Michelle O'Neil said...

Wow! Sounds great.

I want to know what sparked them to all start chatting? What common thing did they all want, hate, etc? How does this conversation get started?

Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

layers of the onion...I like that, tears and saute and makes everything taste better in the end.

liz elayne said...

just wrote a long comment that blogger ate! ugh...

so in short.
love it!
every aspect of it!
yes to writing the outline/ideas now. a must!

tinker said...

This is exciting - you've hooked me already with just the character outline! Now you MUST write this book, because I want to know the rest of the story - and only YOU can tell it!

Yes - I think character/plot outlining is perfectly acceptable prior to the NaNoWriMo. Outline away! (and walk and sleep...gotta get in shape for the writing marathon! :)

Wenda said...

From what I've read at the NaNoWriMo site, all this prep you are doing is perfectly within the rules. This all sounds perfectly intriquing to me and I already want to read the novel.